Some Cornish vineyards are beginning their harvest almost a month earlier than usual as a result of this year’s long hot summer.
Looe Valley Vineyard in south east Cornwall began harvesting its Solaris grapes on August 31 after tests showed that sugar levels in the grapes were already high enough.
Three days later, the first 250 vines had yielded more than 570 kg of grapes making 2018 a bumper year for quantity as well as quality.
Charles Boney, vineyard owner and winemaker, said: “Solaris is always our first grape variety to ripen but typically over the last few years we have been harvesting it more towards the end of September, so this year’s long dry summer has brought the date forward by almost a whole month.
“At this time of year, we check the sugar and acid levels in the fruit very regularly because once the fruit is ripe you need to get it in and processed without delay. Still it was a bit of a shock last Friday to find that the most sheltered vines in a sunny spot at the top of the vineyard were ready for harvest.
“Other plans for the weekend went out of the window and we have been picking, crushing and pressing grapes steadily since, with the fermentation of the first 400 litres of juice starting on Sunday.”
The vineyard has a further 600 Solaris vines and 4,500 of other varieties Bacchus, Schonburger and early Pinot Noir. With good weather forecast to continue through September, a bumper harvest is predicted and picking is likely to continue throughout the month.